Worried About Winter Annual Weeds? Here’s What to Do About Them

Worried About Winter Annual Weeds? Here’s What to Do About Them

They germinate in fall, survive the winter, and wreak havoc on your lawn in the spring. Even when you can’t see them, winter annual weeds lurk underground waiting to take over the lawn when the warmer weather arrives. Now is the time to tackle these weeds! Arm yourself with knowledge to beat these persistent plants before they become a problem.

What Are Winter Annual Weeds?

Weeds fall into three life cycle categories: annual, biennial, and perennial. Annuals are defined by a year-long life cycle in which the seed germinates in fall, overwinters as a plant, and rapidly grows as soon as the weather warms in spring. These hardy weeds survive cold temperatures and harsh weather in the winter only to die off at the end of summer. But not before they produce tons of seeds to keep the species alive.

Your Usual Suspects

Many winter annual weeds thrive in this area, but here we describe a few of the most common offenders.

  • A member of the mint family, henbit has square-shaped stems topped with pinkish or purple flowers that appear early in springtime.
  • Purple deadnettle is often mistaken for henbit due to similar characteristics. However, this look alike differs in that its stem is fuzzy and hidden behind a thicker covering of leaves. Leaves tend to be spade shaped.
  • Common speedwell boasts blue and white small flowers, oval serrated leaves, and heart-shaped pods that hold hundreds of seeds.
  • Often found in moist shady areas, common chickweed displays white flowers with notched petals. Its bright green leaves are smooth and pointed.

What to Do About These Weeds

The best time to prevent winter annual weeds from growing is in the fall. Use a pre-emergent herbicide, but make sure it targets the weeds you want by checking the label on the package. Ask an expert to help you properly identify the plant. But whatever you do, don’t wait for the pretty little flowers to show up in spring. That means they are ready to set seed and overpopulate your once-healthy lawn.

Weeds won’t thrive in a dense healthy carpet of grass. There’s just no room for them. In order to ward off winter annual weeds, keep your lawn lush and strong with a regular maintenance plan that includes watering, fertilizing, mowing, and aerating. Call in an expert to help. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone].

Fall Weed Prevention Fundamentals: A Do-It-Yourself Guide

Fall Weed Prevention Fundamentals: A Do-It-Yourself Guide

Summer isn’t the only season that’s crucial for successful lawn care. Tackling tough invasive plants is all about timing, and fall weed prevention makes maintaining a healthy lawn easier in the long run. This is the season to win the war on weeds and here’s why.

Why Fight Weeds in Fall?

While the weather outside cools down, plants, trees, and grass prepare for the colder season ahead. This is the time when perennial weeds load up on nutrients to survive the winter by transporting food from the leaves down into the root system. Apply weed killer at this time and it goes right to the roots as well, quickly destroying the invasive plant.

Choosing Weapons for Fall Weed Prevention

Properly pick your poison to do battle. There are two types of herbicides, selective and non selective. A selective herbicide targets certain weeds, while a non-selective one simply kills everything it comes in contact with. If targeting a weed within the lawn, choose a selective herbicide to prevent damaging the grass around it.

Another consideration is using pre or post emergent herbicides. Pre emergent products target weeds before they germinate, while under the soil and before they sprout. On the other hand, post emergent products are applied to existing weeds. Effective weed killers often contain a variety of herbicides to tackle more than one type of plant. Carefully read the labels on each product to make sure it targets the weeds you want.

DYI Tips for Fall Weed Prevention

  • Feeding your lawn fertilizer in fall not only strengthens it for winter, but helps it grow healthy in the spring, and lush enough to prevent weeds from invading.
  • One application of herbicide may not do the trick. Often two or three applications are required.
  • After applying a pre emergent product, give it a good watering if there’s no rain in the forecast. This activates the chemical so it creates a barrier in the soil.
  • Most importantly, carefully follow the directions on the label for mixing the formula, timing of application, and safety suggestions.

Let Us Keep Your Lawn Healthy and Weed Free

Fall weed prevention is only one step in keeping your turf in top shape. For a healthy lawn that fights weeds with ease, a year-round maintenance plan is the way to go. Call Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] and we’ll handle the labor-intensive work while you reap the benefits of a beautiful yard.

Crabgrass Control: Winning the War on Weeds With or Without Chemicals

Crabgrass Control: Winning the War on Weeds With or Without Chemicals

Late summer is a stressful time for your lawn. Not only does it deal with drought, heat, pests, and extra traffic from outdoor activities, but crabgrass is one weed in particular that loves to invade your lawn this time of year. When it comes to crabgrass control, there’s two ways to go: with chemicals or without.

The Nature of this Nuisance Weed

Crabgrass thrives in the hot, dry weather and its wandering stems quickly take over the yard, stealing nutrients from native grasses and plants. Turf weakened by a summertime of stresses makes a perfect target for this invasive annual weed. And, before it dies off in the fall, each plant produces thousands of seeds to haunt you next season.

Crabgrass Control Using Chemicals

The best crabgrass control is prevention, and using a pre-emergent herbicide is the most effective way to stop the weeds before they start. Timing is tricky, though. Apply this treatment in the spring while weeds are still seedlings and before they sprout. A pre-emergent herbicide creates a barrier on the soil that prevents the seedlings from emerging.

As the name suggests, a post-emergent herbicide kills crabgrass after it germinates and is applied directly to the plant. Treatments often need to be repeated after the first application. It’s important to pick a dry, sunny day for application, since a rain shower washes away your hard work before it sinks into the soil. The soil should be moist before treatment, so water the lawn well a day or two before application if necessary.

Control Crabgrass Naturally

Want to control crabgrass without the chemicals? Corn gluten functions as a natural pre-emergent herbicide when applied before the weed sprouts. As a bonus, it also acts as a fertilizer for your grass. Unfortunately, once weeds have emerged, corn gluten is ineffective.

Once crabgrass establishes itself in your lawn, hand pulling is another natural method to use. This method requires patience and only works with a small amount of weeds. You must wait until the weed is big enough in order to get the whole plant out, roots and all. Weeding tools get the job done, but a hoe or screwdriver works, too.

Good lawn maintenance gets you ahead of the weed game. It’s the most important crabgrass control method. When you establish a good maintenance routine that consists of regular watering, mowing grass at the proper height, and fertilizing at least once a year, your lawn is thick and strong enough to keep most weeds away.

Call in a Crabgrass Expert

Whether you battle crabgrass with chemicals or nix it in a more natural manner, you don’t have to fight it alone. We can help you with crabgrass control, or any other weed worries. Call Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] today.

How to Properly Identify Poison Ivy and Other Irritating Plants

How to Properly Identify Poison Ivy and Other Irritating Plants

Whether you are working in the yard or walking in the woods, encountering poisonous plants puts a huge damper on the day, and the itchy days that follow. Here’s how to properly identify poison ivy and other poisonous plants before they suck the fun out of your summer.

Common Traits of a Tricky Trio

Beware hikers and homeowners! Poison ivy, oak, and sumac all possess the power to irritate. This is due to an oily coating called urushiol. It covers the leaves, stems, and even the roots of this tricky trio of plants. Coming in contact with any part of the plant transfers the oil to your skin, causing an itchy rash to arise not long after. All three types of these plants cause the same symptoms on skin: itchy, red, swollen patches often accompanied by blisters.

How to Identify Poison Ivy

What makes it difficult to identify poison ivy is that its appearance changes depending on the season, location, and type of environment. The leaves, however, always have pointed tips and cluster around a stem in threes, the middle leaf being larger than the outer ones. Growing as a low shrub or vine, the poison ivy’s leaves are green in summer, yellow or orange in fall, and have a reddish hue in spring. Yellow-green flowers and whitish berries often appear in the summer.

Poison Oak

Poison oak also possesses a cluster of three leaves, however, some varieties of this shrub-like plant have more. Found on both coasts in the United States but not often in the central states, this poisonous plant boasts leaves that resemble oak tree leaves. Green in spring, yellowish green in summer, and brown in fall, the leaves are slightly scalloped with rounded tips that differentiate them from poison ivy.

Poison Sumac

Often found in swampy conditions and humid environments, poison sumac grows as a small tree or tall shrub. The long oval-shaped leaves of poison sumac are smooth edged and turn orange in spring, dark green in summer, and reddish orange in fall. Unlike poison ivy and oak, though, sumac features anywhere from seven to 13 leaves on each of its reddish stems.

Call Us for Help Identifying Poison Ivy

It’s bad enough when weeds spoil the appearance of your lawn, but poisonous ones are even more of a problem. Hopefully, this article helps you identify poison ivy easily, allowing you to enjoy summer rash free and ready for wherever the trails take you. Call Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] to discuss unwanted weeds in your yard.

How to Kill Dandelions Using a Simple Household Product

How to Kill Dandelions Using a Simple Household Product

Are dandelions weeds or wildflowers? Although some claim these showy little balls of sunshine boast a lengthy list of beneficial uses, most property owners categorize them as invasive weeds. Once one appears, many more follow. Getting rid of them takes patience and persistence, but it can be done. In fact, a simple solution to kill dandelions is as close as your kitchen cabinet.

Weeds or Wildflowers?

Not all bad, dandelions are happy harbingers of spring, signalling the end of a long winter. The edible plant’s benefits range from medical to nutritional (try dandelion salad or wine). But beware, these perennials quickly become invasive weeds. The yellow flowers eventually turn into whitish gray puff balls packed with seeds. Dandelions reproduce rapidly by scattering hundreds of seeds near and far into the wind. The weeds grow, taking nutrients and water away from your turf.

It’s hard to kill dandelions once they appear. One reason is because of their long hardy taproots that descend deep in the ground. Yank out a dandelion and chances are some of that long root remains underground, eventually growing back with a vengeance.

Kill Dandelions with this Common Household Item

A warrior against weeds, white vinegar’s acidity makes it an ideal natural herbicide. Although the vinegar in your kitchen has only a 5% acid percentage, it’s possible to boil it down to increase the potency. Adding lemon juice and/or salt to your weed-fighting formula packs even a more powerful punch. Dish soap is an especially helpful additive that helps keep the solution adhered to the weed’s waxy leaves long enough to be effective. If this formula isn’t strong enough, get horticultural vinegar with 20% acetic acid concentration at a garden center.

Application

Kill dandelions before the yellow heads turn into seed-spreading puff balls. Use a spray bottle or brush to apply the solution, but take care to keep it contained and target only the weed. Vinegar kills any plants or grass it comes in contact with, so get up close if spraying. You may need to apply it more than once until you see the leaves wither and die. To ensure the dandelion does not regenerate, dig out the entire taproot once the weed withers. Make sure to perform the task during several days of dry weather so the solution does not wash away before it has a chance to work.

Call Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone]. We provide personalized maintenance programs that include weed controland prevention.

How to Stop Summer Weeds Before They Start

How to Stop Summer Weeds Before They Start

Summer is time for soaking up the sun and sizzling summer barbecues. No one wants to spend it waging a war on weeds. Get ahead of the game if you want to stop summer weeds before they start. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Stop Summer Weeds Now?

Classified as grassy or broadleaf, annual weeds appear in late spring or early summer, depending on the variety, and die off after the first frost. But their death brings no relief to the homeowner. The pesky plants leave behind a bevy of seeds to plague your landscaping the following year. Some of them produce thousands of seeds in one season! Don’t wait until unwanted weeds take over you turf. Once established, the mature plants are difficult to destroy. And you want to stop summer weeds before they set seed to save yourself the time and effort in the following year.

Prevention

Pre-emergent herbicides stop summer weeds by creating a barrier in the soil that prevents growth before it starts. Read the labels on these products to find one that targets the type of weeds you want to prevent. And follow the application directions carefully. However, pre-emergents only prevent weed growth. For already established weeds use a post-emergent product.

Weeds are opportunists. They work their way into thinning grass, bare patches, and weaker turf. Think of an unhealthy lawn like a welcome mat for weeds. You won’t be able to stop summer weeds without working to make your lawn thick and healthy. This requires a proper maintenance program that includes the following:

  • Regularly mowing the lawn to the height that’s ideal for that type of grass.
  • Instead of lightly watering the lawn often, give grass a deeper watering less frequently to promote growth.
  • Test the soil to find out what nutrients it needs. This helps you pick the right fertilizer to apply, and helps determine if you need to add lime to the soil.
  • Aerate compacted soil and keep foot traffic to a minimum to prevent further compaction.
  • Reseed thinning or bare areas.
  • Cut back shrubs and branches to shed more light on shaded areas where grass has a hard time growing.

The best way to keep your lawn weed free is to leave it up to the experts. At Free Spray Lawn Care, we offer a unique program for preventing weeds and keeping your turf in great shape. Call us today at [phone]. We’ll stop summer weeds before they get in the way of your warm-weather fun.